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Author Topic:   The Existence of Jesus Christ
Minnemooseus
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From: Duluth, Minnesota, U.S. (West end of Lake Superior)
Joined: 11-11-2001
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Message 1 of 378 (211938)
05-27-2005 5:17 PM


Before it causes a major topic derailment elsewhere...

At the Rejecting Intelligent Design as Possibly Science topic, randman said:

Shraf, so the gospels are not historical documents, eh?

I suggest you talk with scholars who study such things for yourself. I am telling you the truth. There is not much debate that Jesus existed. The debate is Who He was, what He did and said.

As far as Ceaser or any world leader, the same debate takes place, but just absent the religious and spiritual angle, for the most part.

Can you believe what the sources state? Are they biased, and what is their motivation?

Would the followers of Jesus be willing to die for a lie, for example, when they could have just said Jesus was a great Rabbi, and kept going on with His teachings?

I quoted the entire message, but I'm really shooting to explore the (my) bolded part of the text.

The question is "To what degree did a historical Jesus Christ exist?" What record is there, outside of the Bible, supporting the existance of the Jesus Christ of the Bible?

Moose

Submitted for placement in "The Bible: Accuracy and Inerrancy".

{Fixed spelling error in topic title - Moose}

This message has been edited by minnemooseus, 06-03-2005 03:31 AM


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AdminAsgara
Administrator (Idle past 77 days)
Posts: 2073
From: The Universe
Joined: 10-11-2003


Message 2 of 378 (211954)
05-27-2005 5:56 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
Namesdan
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 378 (211961)
05-27-2005 6:32 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Minnemooseus
05-27-2005 5:17 PM


Accounts made by Tacitus, a Roman historian. Another by Pliny the Younger, a Roman governor of Bithynia. Josephus, a Jewish historian. The Babylonian Talmud. Lucian of Salmosata, a Greek satirist.

These all speak of Jesus' life or crucifiction in seperate ways, they are very independant of each other.


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Brad
Member (Idle past 2563 days)
Posts: 143
From: Portland OR, USA
Joined: 01-26-2004


Message 4 of 378 (211962)
05-27-2005 6:32 PM


Did jesus exist?
Well, there is obviously lots of debate. Two scholars who have studied the Gospels and that time period have written a book called "Was the original Jesus a pagan God?" This book discusses the possibilty of NO historical Jesus. I'm not going to defend the validity of the arguments, just pointing out that there IS debate.
Brad
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New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 5 of 378 (211963)
05-27-2005 6:33 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Minnemooseus
05-27-2005 5:17 PM


minnemooseus writes:

What record is there, outside of the Bible, supporting the existance of the Jesus Christ of the Bible?

Well, most of the records of Jesus have been claimed, by those that don't believe, to be inserted by Christians later, or just repeatings of things people heard from Christians. But here's a couple anyways:

In his Annals, Cornelius Tacitus (55-120 CE) writes:

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.


from: http://www.myfortress.org/historians.html

The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, writing during the second half of the first century CE, produced two major works: History of the Jewish War and Antiquities of the Jews. Two apparent references to Jesus occur in the second of these works. The longer, and more famous passage, occurs in Book 18 of Antiquities and reads as follows (taken from the standard accepted Greek text of Antiquities 18:63-64 by L. H. Feldman in the Loeb Classical Library):

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and as a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvellous things about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.


from http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/scott_oser/hojfaq.html

There's more on that website about whether or not Josephus actually wrote that or if christians inserted it, and which part might have been inserted, etc.

I've also heard, though I couldn't find, that there are Roman death records of the crucifixtion of Jesus.


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Minnemooseus
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Posts: 3638
From: Duluth, Minnesota, U.S. (West end of Lake Superior)
Joined: 11-11-2001
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 6 of 378 (211975)
05-27-2005 7:39 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Minnemooseus
05-27-2005 5:17 PM


Moose will not be participating in this topic
I just thought it badly needed starting. The theme may or may not have been previously covered, but I don't recall there being a topic specific to it (but then, there's lots I don't recall).

Moose


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Kapyong
Member (Idle past 1217 days)
Posts: 344
Joined: 05-22-2003


Message 7 of 378 (211998)
05-27-2005 8:54 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Namesdan
05-27-2005 6:32 PM


Sources for Jesus = all suspect
Greetings Namesdan,

quote:
Accounts made by Tacitus, a Roman historian. Another by Pliny the Younger, a Roman governor of Bithynia. Josephus, a Jewish historian. The Babylonian Talmud. Lucian of Salmosata, a Greek satirist.

Well, namesdan,
these sources do not stand up to scrutiny -

TACITUS (c.112CE)

Roughly 80 years after the alleged events Tacitus allegedly wrote a (now) famous passage about "Christ" - this passage has several problems however:
* Tacitus uses the term "procurator", used in his later times, but not correct for the actual period, when "prefect" was used.
* Tacitus names the person as "Christ", when Roman records could not possibly have used this name (it would have been "Jesus, son of Joseph" or similar.)
* Tacitus accepts the recent advent of Christianity, which was against Roman practice (to only allow ancient and accepted cults and religions.)
* (No-one refers to this passage for a millenium, even early Christians who actively sought such passages.)

Thus, even if the Tacitus passage is not a later interpolation,
it is not evidence of a historical Jesus based on earlier Roman records,
but
merely a few details which Tacitus gathered from Christian stories circulating in his time (c.f. Pliny.)

PLINY the Younger (c.112CE)

About 80 years after the alleged events, (and over 40 years after the war) Pliny refered to Christians who worshipped a "Christ" as a god, but there is no reference to a historical Jesus or Gospel events.

So,
Pliny is not evidence for a historical Jesus of Nazareth,
just evidence for 2nd century Christians who worshipped a Christ.

JOSEPHUS (c.96CE)

The famous Testamonium Flavianum is considered probably the best evidence for Jesus, yet it has some serious problems :
* the T.F. as it stands uses clearly Christian phrases and names Christ as Messiah, it could not possibly have been written by the Jew Josephus (who refused to acknowledge anyone "messiah"),
* The T.F. comes in several versions of various ages,
* The T.F. was not mentioned by Origen when he reviewed Josephus - Origen even says Josephus does NOT call Jesus the Messiah, showing the passage was not present in that earlier era.
* The T.F. first showed up in manuscripts of Eusebius, and was still absent from some manuscripts as late as 8th century.
* (The other tiny passage in Josephus is probably a later interpolation.)

An analysis of Josephus can be found here:
http://www.humanists.net/jesuspuzzle/supp10.htm

In short - this passage is possibly a total forgery (or at best a corrupt form of a lost original.)

But,
its COULD be actual evidence for Jesus. late, corrupt, but just POSSIBLY real historical evidence.

Such is the weakness of the evidence that this suspect passage is considered some of the best "evidence" for a historical Jesus of Nazareth.

TALMUD (3rd C. and later

There are some possible references in the Talmud, but:
* these references are from 3rd century or later, and seem to be (unfriendly) Jewish responses to Christian claims.
* the references are variant and quite different to the Gospel stories (e.g. one story has "Jesus" born about 100BC.)

So,
the Talmud contains later Jewish responses to the Gospel stories,
but
the Talmud contains NO evidence for a historical Jesus.

LUCIAN (c.170CE)

Nearly one-and-a-half CENTURIES after the alleged events, Lucian satirised Christians, but :
* this was several generations later,
* Lucian does NOT even mention Jesus or Christ by name.

So,
Lucian is no evidence for a historical Jesus.

In short,
these sources are endlessly repeated by Christians as evidence for the existance of Jesus - yet they are no real evidence at all.

Iasion


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Kapyong
Member (Idle past 1217 days)
Posts: 344
Joined: 05-22-2003


Message 8 of 378 (212006)
05-27-2005 9:24 PM


Writers who could/should have mentioned Jesus
Greetings all,

Regarding evidence for the existance of Jesus - a well-known list of early writers from Remsberg is much bandied about by sceptics.

This list names a large number of early writers who lived about the time of Jesus, but who failed to mention him.

Some of the names on the list do not belong, because they just could not be expected to have mentioned Jesus. The Remsberg list is also without dates and subjects and places, and is unclear in identifying some authors.

So, I have updated and improved this list, taking it up to the mid 2nd century. Some of the writers listed need more details.

How Likely was a mention of Jesus?

The issue is really HOW LIKELY they would be to mention Jesus.

Factors which increase the expectation that Jesus would be mentioned in a work include :
* a large work (i.e. one which has large index of names)
* a work on an issue somehow related to Jesus or the Gospel events,
* a work whose genre tends to frequently mention or allude to many subjects and people,

I have thus classified these writers into broad categories -
* writers who surely SHOULD have mentioned Jesus (5),
* writers who PROBABLY SHOULD have mentioned Jesus (4,3),
* writers who COULD have mentioned Jesus (2,1, or even 0.5),
* writers who WOULDN'T have mentioned Jesus (0)

I have given each writer a WEIGHT out of 5 as indicated.

As well as -
* writers CLAIMED to mention Jesus.

Of course, one writer who didn't mention Jesus means nothing.
But,
when DOZENS of writers from the period in question fail to mention anything about Jesus (or the the Gospel events or actors), this argues against historicity.

The argument is sometimes made that these writers could not possibly have mentioned Jesus - because he was a minor figure and unrelated to the issues at hand.

This assumes that no such writer ever mentions a minor figure in passing, that they never make an aside about other events or figures who are not specially related to the subject.

Of course, this is not true, as the evidence below shows that many of the writers mentioned make many references to many other minor figures and often make excurses about other subjects and events and people.

I have included astronomers on the list who might have mentioned the Star of Bethlehem and/or the darkness at the crucifixion - if they had heard of them. This is a lesser issue then the existence of Jesus, and I have rated such writers as 0.5.

Summary of Results

The results of my current classifications is:

1 writer who surely SHOULD have mentioned Jesus (Philo.)

3 writers who PROBABLY SHOULD have mentioned Jesus (Seneca, Plutarch, Justus.)

31 writers who COULD have mentioned Jesus.

(20 writers who could not be expected to.
6 writers claimed to mention Jesus, but disputed or suspect.)

You can see the results presented chronologically with colour and font size here:
http://members.iinet.net.au/~quentinj/Christianity/EarlyWriters.html

WRITERS WHO SHOULD HAVE MENTIONED JESUS

PHILO

Philo Judaeus wrote very many books about Jewish religion and history, in the 30s and 40s, living in Alexandria, and visiting Jerusalem.

Philo was contemporary with Jesus and Paul,
Philo visited Jerusalem and had family there,
he developed the concept of the Logos and the holy spirit,
he was considered a Christian by some later Christians,
he wrote a great deal about related times and peoples and issues.

If Jesus had existed, Philo would almost certainly have written about him and his teachings.

Rating: SHOULD have mentioned Jesus or his teachings, but did not.
Weight: 5

WRITERS WHO PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE MENTIONED JESUS

SENECA

Lucius Annaeus Seneca wrote many philosophic (Stoic) and satirical books and letters (and Tragedies) in Rome.

Seneca wrote a great deal on many subjects and mentioned many people. He was a Stoic, a school of thought considered sympathetic to Christian teachings.

In fact,
early Christians seemed to have expected him to discuss Christianity - they FORGED letters between him and Paul.

How else to explain these forgeries, except as Christian responses to a surprising VOID in Seneca's writings?

Rating: PROBABLY SHOULD have mentioned Jesus or his teachings, but did not.
Weight: 4

PLUTARCH

Plutarch of Chaeronea wrote many works on history and philosophy in Rome and Boetia in about 90-120 CE.

Plutarch wrote about influential Roman figures, including some contemporary to Jesus,
Plutarch wrote on Oracles (prophesies),
Plutarch wrote on moral issues,
Plutarch wrote on spiritual and religious issues.

Plutarch's writings also include a fascinating piece known as the "Vision of Aridaeus", a spiritual journey, or out of body experience, or religious fantasy -
http://members.iinet.net.au/~quentinj/Christianity/PlutarchVision.html

If Plutarch knew of Jesus or the Gospel events, it is highly likely he would have mentioned them.

Rating: PROBABLY SHOULD have mentioned Jesus or his teachings, but did not.
Weight: 4

JUSTUS

Justus of Tiberias wrote a History of Jewish Kings in Galilee in late 1st century.

Photius read Justus in the 8th century and noted that he did not mention anything: "He (Justus of Tiberias) makes not one mention of Jesus, of what happened to him, or of the wonderful works that he did."

It is surprising that a contemporary writer from the very region of Jesus' alleged acts did not mention him.

Rating: PROBABLY SHOULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 3

WRITERS WHO COULD HAVE MENTIONED JESUS

DAMIS

Damis wrote most of what we know about Apollonius of Tyana. He was a philospher and mystic exactly contemporary with Jesus and who was rather similar to Jesus - enough for some authors to argue they were one and the same person.

If Damis/Apollonius had known of Jesus, he could have easily have been mentioned as a competitor. A story in which Apollonius bested Jesus in debate would not be un-expected.

Rating: COULD easily have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2

APOLLONIUS

See Damis.

PLINY THE ELDER

Gaius Plinius Secundus wrote a large Natural History in Rome c.80CE

Pliny wrote a great deal - his Natural History mentions HUNDREDS of people, major & minor - writers, leaders, poets, artists - often with as much reason as mentioning Jesus. (Of course like many other writers he talks about astronomy too, but never mentions the Star of Bethlehem or the darkness.)

It is not at all un-reasoble for this prolific writer to have mentioned Jesus or the Gospels events.

Rating: COULD easily have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2

JUVENAL

Decimus Junius Juvenalis wrote sixteen satires in Rome in early 2nd century.

Lucian the Roman satirist DID ridicule Christians (as gullible, easily lead fools) in mid 2nd century. By the later time of Lucian, Christianity obviously was known to the wider Roman community. Whereas Juvenal wrote at a time when Christianity had only just started to rate a few tiny mentions (Pliny the Younger, Tacitus.)

Rating: COULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2

MARTIAL

Marcus Valerius Martialus wrote satires in Rome in late 1st century.

Martial wrote a large body of poems about all sorts of things. He mentions many people, places, stories and issues - major and minor, within and without Rome, such as :
* Stoic suffering of discomfort and death,
* virgin's blood,
* Roman funerary practices,
* the way accused men look in court,
* Roman soldiers mocking their leaders,
* anointing the body with oil,
* Molorchus the good shepherd,
* Tutilius a minor rhetorician, Nestor the wise,
* the (ugly) Temple of Jupiter,

This shows Martial mentions or alludes to many and varied people and issues.

He could easily have mentioned Jesus (or the Gospel events).

Rating: COULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2

PETRONIUS

Petronius Arbiter wrote a large novel (a bawdy drama) the "Satyricon" c.60CE.

Petronius mentions all sorts of people and events in this large work, including :
** a CRUCIFIXION !
** a scene where guards are posted to stop a corpse being stolen,
** a tomb scene of someone mistaking a person for a supernatural vision,
* gods such as Bacchus and Ceres,
* writers such as Sophocles and Euripides and Epicurus,
* books such as the Iliad,
* Romans such as Cato and Pompey,
* people such as Hannibal, and the Governor of Ephesus,
* female charioteers, slaves, merchants, Arabs, lawyers
* baths, shipwrecks, meals...

This large work, cover MANY topics, including a CRUCIFIXION, and it was written just as Peter and Paul had come to Rome, allegedly. It could easily have mentioned Jesus.

Rating: COULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2

PAUSANIAS

Pausanias wrote the massive Guide to Greece in mid 2nd century.

Pausanias' work is vast and the index covers over 70 pages of small print, I estimate a couple of THOUSAND names are mentioned. He mentions a large number of minor figues from within and without Greece.

He even mentions a Jewish prophetess - a figure so minor she is essentially unknown: "Then later than Demo there was a prophetic woman reared among the Jews beyond Palestine; her name was Sabbe." Phokis, Book X, 12, [5]

Pausanias also mentions the Jewish rebellion under Hadrian.

Rating: COULD easily have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2

EPICTETUS

Epictetus is known for several books of Stoic religious and philosophic discourses in the early 2nd century. One of his disciples was Arrian, and thanks to him much of Epictetus' works are extant.

Epictetus DID apparently mention "the Galileans", which could be a reference to :
* the early Christians,
or
* the revolt under Judas the Galilean in early 1st century.

Either way, this shows quite clearly that Epictetus could refer to a figure such as Jesus.

Rating: COULD easily have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2

AELIUS ARISTIDES

Aelius Aristides the Greek Orator spoke and wrote a History of Rome and other subjects - he seems to refer to the Christians as "impious men from Palestine" (Orations 46.2)

If he could mention people from Palestine, he could easily have mentioned Jesus.

Rating: COULD easily have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2

FRONTO

Marcus Cornelius Fronto of Rome wrote several letters in mid 2nd century.

According to Minucius Felix, he scandalised rites practiced by Roman Christians - so he could easily have mentioned Jesus.

Rating: COULD easily have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2

PERSIUS

Aulus Persius Flaccus wrote six fairly long satires in Rome in the mid 1st century, of a rather philosophic nature.

The argument that no Roman satirist could be expected to mention Jesus, is proven wrong by the case of a Roman satirist who DID mention Jesus (but only as echoes of later Christian beliefs.)

Persius wrote a reasonably large body of work that mentions many people and issues.

Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 1

DIO CHRYSOSTOM

Dio Chrysostom (Cocceianus Dio) wrote many works and gave many speeches in various Roman and Greek centres in late 1st century, of which 80 survive e.g. the Euboicus.

Dio wrote a large number of works in the late 1st century - he certainly could have mentioned Jesus, if he knew of him.

Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 1

AULUS GELLIUS

Aulus Gellius wrote Attic Nights (Nights in Athens), a large compendium of many topics and which mentioned many people.

Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 1

LUCIUS APULEIUS

Lucius Apuleius wrote the Metamorphoses (the Golden Ass or Transformations of Lucius) and many other spiritual, historical, and philosophic works - several survive.

Rating: COULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 1

MARCUS AURELIUS

Marcus Aelius Aurelius Antoninus wrote the Stoic Meditations in mid 2nd century - he (apparently) refers once to the Christians in XI, 3.

Rating: COULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 1

MUSONIUS RUFUS

C. Musonius Rufus wrote on Stoic philosophy in Rome in mid 1st century.

Rating: COULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 1

HIEROCLES

Hierocles of Alexandria wrote on Stoic philosophy in late 1st century.

Rating: COULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 1

MAXIMUS of TYRE

Cassius Maximus Tyrius, a Greek NeoPlatonic philosopher, wrote many works in mid 2nd century.

Rating: COULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 1

ARRIAN

Arrian wrote a History of Alexander c.120CE.

The subject is not related, but Arrian wrote a very large work which mentioned HUNDREDS of people, some not from Alexander's time.

Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5

APPIAN

Appian wrote a large Roman History (from the Gracchi to Caesar) in mid 2nd century.

It's not particularly likely that this specific writer would mention Jesus.
But,
he wrote a LARGE work which mentions HUNDREDS of people.
Appian does mention some issues of HIS day (mid 2nd century), e.g. a decision by Hadrian.

Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5

THEON of SMYRNA

Theon of Smyrna wrote on astronomy/philosophy in early 2nd century.

Theon wrote about philosophy. If Jesus and his teachings were known, it is entirely plausible for to mention them.

Theon also wrote about astronomy.
If he had heard about the Star of Bethlehem or the Darkness (as an event, or from the Gospels) he could easily have mentioned it.

Apologists frequently cite Phlegon and Thallus, astronomers who mentioned eclipses (but NOT Jesus or the Gospel events, that is merely later Christian wishful thinking) as evidence for Jesus.

An astronomer could easily be expected to mention those incidents, especially when apologists claim other astronomers of the period did exactly that.

The silence of early astronomers about the Star of Bethlehem or the crucifixion darkness argues these "events" were unknown until later.

Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5

QUINTILIAN

Marcus Fabius Quintilianus, wrote the "Education of an Orator" in Rome in late 1st century.

One of the things Jesus was allegedly noted for was his PUBLIC SPEECHES - e.g. the Sermon on the Mount, which supposedly drew and influenced large crowds.

If Quintilian had heard of Jesus or the Gospels events, he could have mentioned the allegedly famous speeches of Jesus.

Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5

LUCIUS ANNAEUS FLORUS

Lucius Annaeus Florus wrote an Epitome of Roman History.

Although not directly on subject, Florus wrote a large work which mentions many names. He could have mentioned Jesus if he had known of him.

Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5

LUCAN

Marcus Annaeus Lucanus wrote the Pharsalia (Civil War) in Rome in mid 1st century.

In his large poem, the Pharsalia, he mentions some events from later times, and he covers many different issues and people in passing.
He:
* mentions an event from 56CE,
* refers to places as far afield as Sicily and Kent,
* refered to Stoic religious beliefs about the end of the world,
* refers to many books and myths and persons and events not part of the main story.

Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5

STATIUS

Publius Papinius Statius wrote numerous minor and epic poems (e.g. Ode to Sleep and the Thebaid) in Rome in late 1st century.

Statius wrote many works on several subjects, he could have mentioned Jesus.

Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5

HERO of ALEXANDRIA

Hero(n) of Alexandria wrote many technical works, including astronomy.

If he had known of the Gospel stories about Jesus, he could have mentioned them.

Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5

GEMINUS

Geminus wrote on mathematics astronomy in Greece.

If he had known of the Gospel stories about Jesus, he could have mentioned them.

Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5

ALBINUS

Albinus taught on (neo-)Platonism in early 2nd century, a little survives.

Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5

ARISTOCLES

Aristocles of Messene wrote On Philosophy, early 2nd century.

Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5

APOLLODORUS

Apollodorus compiled a large Mythology in mid 2nd century.

Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5

HEPHAESTION

Hephaestion of Alexandria wrote many works in mid 2nd century.

Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5

SEXTUS EMPIRICUS

Sextus Empiricus wrote Outlines of Scepticism in mid 2nd century.

Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5

WRITERS CLAIMED TO MENTION JESUS

JOSEPHUS

Much has been said about Josephus, but not here.

Rating: CLAIMED to mention Jesus, but may not have.

TACITUS

Cornelius Tacitus wrote a celebrated passage about Jesus roughly 80 years or so after the alleged events - but he seems to be reporting Christian beliefs of his later times, not using earlier documents: he uses the incorrect title 'procurator' - the term used in Tacitus' time, not Pilate's; he fails to name the executed man (Roman records could not possibly have called him 'Christ '); and he accepts the recent advent of the Christians, when Rome was known to allow only ancient cults and religions.

Rating: CLAIMED to mention Jesus, but probably late hearsay.

NUMENIUS

In the 3rd century, Origen claimed Numenius "quotes also a narrative regarding Jesus--without, however, mentioning His name"

Numenius does not mention Jesus, just a story that was later attributed to him.

Rating: CLAIMED to mention Jesus, but probably late hearsay.

SUETONIUS

Gaius SUETONIUS Tranquillus wrote a histories/biographies of Roman Caesars c.120CE.

He mentions a "Chrestus" (a common slave name meaning "Useful") who caused disturbance in Rome in 49CE.

Rating: CLAIMED to mention Jesus, but did not.

PHLEGON

Phlegon wrote during the 140s - his works are lost. Later, Origen, Eusebius, and Julianus Africanus (as quoted by much later George Syncellus) refer to him, but quote differently his reference to an eclipse. There is no evidence Phlegon said anything about Gospel events - just evidence for later Christians believing his statements about an eclipse (there WAS an eclipse in this period) was really about the Gospel darkness.

Rating: CLAIMED to mention Jesus, but did not.

THALLUS

Thallus perhaps wrote in early 2nd century or somewhat earlier (his works are lost, there is no evidence he wrote in the 1st century, in fact there is some evidence he wrote around 109 BCE, and some authors refer to him for events before the Trojan War!) - 9th century George Syncellus quotes the 3rd century Julianus Africanus, speaking of the darkness at the crucifixion: "Thallus calls this darkness an eclipse". There is no evidence Thallus made specific reference to Jesus or the Gospel events, as there was an eclipse in 29, the subject in question. Furthermore the supposed reference to Thallus in Eusebius is likely a mis-reading.

Rating: CLAIMED to mention Jesus, but did not.

WRITERS WHO COULD NOT BE EXPECTED TO HAVE MENTIONED JESUS

Dion Prusaeus
Paterculus
Ptolemy
Valerius Maximus
Pomponius Mela
Quintus Curtus Rufus
Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella
Favorinus
Phaedrus
Babrius
Silius Italicus
Marcus Manilius
Cleomedes
Dioscorides
Sextus Julius Frontinus
Nicomachus of Gerasa
Menelaus of Alexandria
Menodotus of Nicomedia
Tiberius Claudius Herodes Atticus
Valerius Flaccus


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lfen
Member (Idle past 2452 days)
Posts: 2189
From: Oregon
Joined: 06-24-2004


Message 9 of 378 (212013)
05-27-2005 10:16 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Minnemooseus
05-27-2005 5:17 PM


Earl Dougherty's Jesus Puzzle
Earl Doherty's web site and book by the same name is a very in depth examination of how Christianity could have begun as a mythical religion that later moved it's God into history.

Solving the Jesus Puzzle through the Christian and ancient-world record, from the Pauline epistles to the Gospels to the second century Christian apologists, from Philo to Josephus to Jewish and Hellenistic philosophy.

Christian faith evolved from a Jesus myth to an historical Jesus. New Testament scholarship needs to uncover that original evolution and rewrite the history of Western religion.

http://www.jesuspuzzle.com/

I found Doherty's arguments compelling. I remain uncertain about his interpretation of Paul. Did Paul know of a historical Jesus or not? Several passages in Paul seem to imply references to an actual person and this undermines Doherty's arguments that Paul was referring to a mythical Christ. This leaves open to me the possiblity of a teacher who was deified by his followers.

lfen


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CodeTrainer
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 378 (212023)
05-27-2005 11:41 PM


Wow, the long list of dozens of people who referred to Jesus Christ from ancient times, if the skeptic who listed them were to apply the same criteria to the Caesars you'd wonder if there were any.

Imagine that, in 64 Anno Domini Nero blames the burning of Rome on a "cult" that's only 31 years old, powered totally on the resurrection of one "man" from the dead in the area of Jerusalem, and gospels based on facts that were at the time easily falsified but were not.

Just a teacher, just a rabbi, blah blah, there were dozens of them in Israel/Palestine at the time, and only one fired up his followers enough to believe in his resurrection enough to go all the way to martyrdom for the belief.

The long list left out the writings of Polycarp, won as a disciple by John, and who wrote about walking on the isle of Patmos with John and hearing first-hand accounts about the Savior.

I followed the evidence right out from atheism into the truth. Come on up! The air's cleaner!

-- Alan


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MangyTiger
Member (Idle past 4129 days)
Posts: 989
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 07-30-2004


Message 11 of 378 (212039)
05-28-2005 12:19 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by CodeTrainer
05-27-2005 11:41 PM


Wow, the long list of dozens of people who referred to Jesus Christ from ancient times, if the skeptic who listed them were to apply the same criteria to the Caesars you'd wonder if there were any.

Actually I doubt that. The Ceasers are relatively easy to verify as they get written about a lot, not to mention they tended to do things like erect monuments and mint coins which can still be looked at today.


Oops! Wrong Planet
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jar
Member
Posts: 30352
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 1.6


Message 12 of 378 (212043)
05-28-2005 12:28 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by CodeTrainer
05-27-2005 11:41 PM


Just a teacher, just a rabbi, blah blah, there were dozens of them in Israel/Palestine at the time, and only one fired up his followers enough to believe in his resurrection enough to go all the way to martyrdom for the belief.

Well, I'm not so sure about that. Wasn't there something called "The Jewish Rebelion" or such and a serious enough threat that Roman had to send troops to put it down ending in a seige of some place called Massada or such? I'm old but I seem to remember some mention of it.

Seems there was some mention external to the Bible and perhaps even some physical evidence as well?


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
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randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 2674 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 13 of 378 (212055)
05-28-2005 1:54 AM


I'd just like to point out that excluding the New Testament, a priori, as historically unreliable or some such is not good scholarship, but mere bias. The simple fact is the writers of the New Testament probably all experienced Jesus ministry, or at a minimum, some like Paul, undoubtedly heard and spoke with others that had met and walked with Jesus, and incidentally, Paul had relatives that converted to "the way" while he was still persecuting the Church, and considering he studied in Jerusalem at the time, there is no doubt he would have been aware of Jesus' earthly ministry, even if absent during His arrest and crucifixion.

If you are going to say there is not enough evidence for Jesus, why not go all the way and claim there is no evidence either for Paul or any of the apostles?

At some point, one has to accept history. You can differ with the idea that Jesus is the Messiah and think that somehow the miracles and Resurrection did not happen, if you want, but to actually go as far to suggest there never even was a Jesus is just not good scholarship.

As far as religious concerns, I think that realizing Jesus actually did rise from the dead and is the Messiah takes getting a personal revelation, to a degree, from God (the Father), and those that seek the truth and really want to know, will receive.

But on the topic of good scholarship, claiming Jesus is a myth is tantamount to rejecting the entire New Testament as having any historical validity and ignoring the evidence of the growth in the early Church, the accounts we do have, etc,...

In terms of why some writers may not mention Jesus, well, probably the same reason some want to deny he ever even lived. Some folks just really don't like even the idea of Jesus Christ, Christianity, etc,...

By the way, one strong piece of evidence for the gospel accounts of Jesus' sayings being accurate and dated for the time he lived is the use in the gospels of the term "son of man." I once read a brilliant work on the subject of the term "the son of man" in the apocryphaphal literature and it's use up to the time of Jesus. I don't have the scholars name handy, a bright German scholar working with original sources who incidentally did not accept the Bible as inerrant but nevertheless commanded the respect of a fundamentalist scholar and seminary professor who recommended the book to me.

Notably, the term "son of man", although a prominent term of Jesus to refer to Himself is not used that much in the rest in the rest of the New Testament, nor later in Church history, and that's because there was a time between Jesus' sayings and, for example, Paul's letters, that the use of that term faded, for the most part, within the emerging Christian community.

If the gospels were fictional accounts created much later, they would not have had Jesus referring to Himself by the title "son of man", and I am not sure later if people even understand the term.

The term became dated and was already poorly understood outside of certain Jewish religious sects, and since presumably a much later date for the gospels would be written by and to a largely Gentile/Jewish mixed group, or even just a predominantly Gentile group, it makes no sense to fabricate this term. I am not sure they would even know the larger implications of how this term was used at the time of Jesus, and frankly, most people even today do not have a clear concept of the term. They infer it means the Messiah, but they do not realize that it was a commonly understood term for a few years that meant Messiah, and there were other interesting aspects to the way it was used in literature at the time, which make Jesus' use of the term more Trinitarian, for lack of a better term, than most realize on the face of it.

Why would they then insert such a dated term into a fictional account?

In fact, you see very little discussion of this term "son of man" throughout Christian history, even today, and that's because it was a phrase with a specific historical and cultural meaning during the time of Jesus, and not so much later.

Unfortunately, I will have to dig through some buried boxes and note-books to get the scholar's name, but I may do that since I am a little concerned I cannot remember his name any longer, and want to read his book again. It's the kind of thing a seminary professor of Church history might recommend, but pretty much no one else has heard of. There are a lot of superiour works of scholarship that are never read by the most, not even those studying a subject unless in-depth, but somehow what gets out to today's public or classes, even on a graduate level, is generally inferiour scholarship and work, or toned down for the masses.

This message has been edited by randman, 05-28-2005 02:01 AM

This message has been edited by randman, 05-28-2005 02:04 AM

This message has been edited by randman, 05-28-2005 02:20 AM


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Kapyong
Member (Idle past 1217 days)
Posts: 344
Joined: 05-22-2003


Message 14 of 378 (212076)
05-28-2005 6:48 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by randman
05-28-2005 1:54 AM


NT is religious literature, not history
Greetings randman,

quote:
I'd just like to point out that excluding the New Testament, a priori, as historically unreliable or some such is not good scholarship, but mere bias.

I agree.
Who do you think did this?

Scholars examine and evaluate the NT on its merits, like any ancient writings.

Such evaluation reveals the NT to be not very reliable as history, but better understood as religious literature.

quote:
The simple fact is the writers of the New Testament probably all experienced Jesus ministry,

No,
it is not a simple fact at all,
it is merely the story that you, and other Christians, believe.

According to scholars,
NOT ONE SINGLE NT document was written by anyone who met any Jesus -
Paul never met Jesus,
the writer who forged the Pastorals never met Jesus,
the writer of the Petrine letters never met Jesus,
the writer of James never met Jesus,
the writer of Jude never met Jesus,
the writer of Acts never met Jesus,
the writer of Revelation never met Jesus,
the writer of G.Mark never met Jesus,
the writer of G.Matthew never met Jesus,
the writer of G.Luke never met Jesus,
the writer of G.John never met Jesus,

quote:
or at a minimum, some like Paul, undoubtedly heard and spoke with others that had met and walked with Jesus, and incidentally, Paul had relatives that converted to "the way" while he was still persecuting the Church, and considering he studied in Jerusalem at the time, there is no doubt he would have been aware of Jesus' earthly ministry, even if absent during His arrest and crucifixion.

Thats IF you believe the stories that the story itself tells.
The point is - we don't BELIEVE your stories.

quote:
If you are going to say there is not enough evidence for Jesus, why not go all the way and claim there is no evidence either for Paul or any of the apostles?

Well, someone wrote the letters of Paul, we call that person "Paul".
Peter and James probably or possibly existed, most of the rest are probably mythical.

quote:
At some point, one has to accept history.

Hang on!
You seem to be saying we should accept your stories are true, just because, well just because you say so, apparently.

The NT is religious literature - if YOU believe its true, that's your business.
But,
if you want others to believe you, you'll have to convince them with evidence and argument.

Do, you accept the Iliad as history?
Or the Golden Ass of Apuleis?
Or the story of Isis and Osiris?

Why would you expect us to "accept" your religious myths as history?

quote:
You can differ with the idea that Jesus is the Messiah and think that somehow the miracles and Resurrection did not happen, if you want, but to actually go as far to suggest there never even was a Jesus is just not good scholarship.

Why?
What is your argument?

quote:
As far as religious concerns, I think that realizing Jesus actually did rise from the dead and is the Messiah takes getting a personal revelation, to a degree, from God (the Father), and those that seek the truth and really want to know, will receive.

i.e. Jesus is a religious experience, not related to facts or evidence.

quote:
But on the topic of good scholarship, claiming Jesus is a myth is tantamount to rejecting the entire New Testament as having any historical validity and ignoring the evidence of the growth in the early Church, the accounts we do have, etc,...

Indeed, most of the NT is legends, not history.
The growth and early history of the church is perfectly explained by a religious BELIEF in Jesus Christ, without there ever being a historical Jesus.

quote:
In terms of why some writers may not mention Jesus, well, probably the same reason some want to deny he ever even lived. Some folks just really don't like even the idea of Jesus Christ, Christianity, etc,...

Pardon?
Are you saying all those ancient writers DELIBERATELY ignored Jesus because they didn't like him or what he had to say?
Thats like saying ancient writers only wrote about their allies and friends and supporters.
Nonsense - writers frequently wrote SPECIFICALLY to criticise or ridicule opponents.

Hitler would be one of the most DISLIKED person one could imagine recently - do we see him ignored by writers and historians?
No way - exactly the opposite.

quote:
By the way, one strong piece of evidence for the gospel accounts of Jesus' sayings being accurate and dated for the time he lived is the use in the gospels of the term "son of man."

Pardon?
So a contemporary term was used in the Gospel, and that proves its true?

Nonsense - thats like saying Gone with the Wind is true just because it uses old slang of the day.

Iasion


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Admin
Director
Posts: 12552
From: EvC Forum
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Message 15 of 378 (212080)
05-28-2005 7:42 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by CodeTrainer
05-27-2005 11:41 PM


Forum Guidelines Advisory
Hi CodeTrainer,

Please carefully examine the Forum Guidelines. You're going to have to make a choice between dispassionate discussion and evangelizing. If you want to evangelize, don't do it in the science forums. This forum discusses Biblical issues from the perspective of empirical evidence. If you'd like to discuss issues from a more faith based perspective, please choose from threads in the Social and Religious Issues category. And if you've come here simply to tweak the noses of those who don't share your religious beliefs then you're at the wrong board.

Enforcement of the Forum Guidelines usually takes the form of 24 hour suspension of posting privileges. See Suspensions and Bannings (MESSAGES BY ADMIN ONLY).


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

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